Seekers of the Ashen Crown week 38: Reunions

After spending the night at a nearby flophouse, the party split up in the morning for their respective meetings.  Kayde went with Jak to keep an eye on his meeting with his old friend (and current Dark Lantern) Thom, while Ivello joined Aruget in meeting his sister Razu, a decorated House Deneith blademark.  Before parting ways, Ivello – always on the lookout for trouble – caught a small rat off the street and prepared it to take a message from Jak in case things went sideways. Jak slipped the rat inside his coat and made his way back to a familiar place: the Traveler’s Rest.

The Traveler’s Rest had, in its lifetime, been both a warehouse and a theater, and its decor leaned more towards the latter.  Old masks and costumes lined the walls, along with shelves full of props and other knick-knacks.  It hadn’t changed since Jak was a child living in the small, run-down apartments above, and its familiarity was both comforting and unsettling given everything that had transpired since his last visit and everything that lay ahead.  Scanning the common room and seeing no sign of his friend, he took a seat in one of the cramped private rooms lining the tavern’s wall, ordered two beers, and waited.  As the greasy-looking bartender brought his drinks, a familiar shape appeared in the doorway, and Jak’s heart caught in his throat.  Thom had come to him.

As Thom drew the room’s curtain shut and in a low, stunned voice asked Jak what he’d done, Jak cut him off.  He was grateful to see him, but given the events of the past week, needed to know that he was who he seemed to be.  Back when they’d first met, Thom had only said four words to him all night: what were they?  “‘You talk too much’,” Thom replied.  He frowned.  “And it seems nothing’s changed.  Jak, what did you do?” Slumping down into his chair, Jak insisted that he’d done his job – and Tik had screwed him over.

Across the street at the Drunken Rabbit, a tavern and gambling hall full of riotous colours and mismatched furniture, Aruget immediately spotted his sister at the bar trying her best to not look like the highly placed blademark she was.  Awkwardly running over to give her a hug, he hesitated as she stood up and caught him in a quick embrace herself.  While Ivello made himself scarce with a glass of juice at a nearby table, Aruget struggled to find the right words to sum up everything that had happened in the last few weeks.  He asked Razu if she’d heard about them being wanted by the Citadel, and she replied that she had indeed heard about him and his friends – she could only see Ivello with him, had the others been lost?  Waving Ivello over to join them, he told her the story of Tik’s betrayal, to which she shook her head and asked why he’d returned to the hornet’s nest.  He wanted to clear their names, but he’d need Razu’s help, fearing that they would soon wind up in a situation where they found themselves outnumbered.  She scowled, considering the logistics and her position in House Deneith, but agreed that she could probably cash in some favours.  What would they be needed for, and when?  Aruget replied that he couldn’t say exactly, but hoped she could have backup ready to go.  Relieved for her help, and overcome with emotion at seeing his sister again, Aruget lamented that it felt like months since he’d been back in Sharn, and he had so much to tell her – he’d been back to Graywall, and gotten more information regarding the strange circumstances of the death of their brother, Dabrak.  He intended to follow that lead, hopefully with Razu’s help, but first, he had to finish this job and help his friends.  

Back in the cramped room at the Traveler’s Rest, Jak relayed to Thom the whole story of their adventure – the trek to Droaam, their run-in with the Emerald Claw, their triumph under Six Kings, and the murder of the Kech Volaar, culminating in Jak’s arrest.  Feeling quite overwhelmed and struggling to stay present, Jak noticed that while Thom was listening to him, he seemed distracted and kept staring at the curtain.  Turning back to Jak, he shook his head and told him that he didn’t know what to say.  “You believe me, right?” Jak asked, anxiety rising in his gut.  He insisted that he didn’t hate the Citadel, and that all he wanted was to come home.  Thom grimly replied that he didn’t know what to believe, and that he was sorry.  Jak pleaded with him, reminding Thom of how he’d bailed him out once before, and that he needed his help again – he was the only one Jak could trust.  Thom looked down at Jak again, crestfallen, and simply repeated that he didn’t know what to believe.  And that he was sorry. 

With that, the curtain opened to reveal a human man dressed in dark leathers, with a smirk on his face…and a familiar sword with a ruby pommel on his hip.  Tik grinned and congratulated Jak on being so predictable.  He made Tik’s job so easy.  As Jak stared at Thom in horror, barely able to speak, Kayde revealed himself.  He jumped out of his seat, demanding to know what Tik wanted, and what he’d done with the stolen pieces of the Ashen Crown.  Tik nonchalantly turned his attention to Kayde and replied that he was playing the long game.  He’d been at it for a long time, ingratiating himself to that Khyber-damned Kech Volaar to manipulate them into doing everything he’d wanted, just like he was doing with Kayde and his friends.  He knew they’d come to him – like Jak, they were nothing if not predictable.  He continued to gloat, glancing back over his shoulder and telling Jak he was surprised the young agent had made it as far in the Citadel as he had.  As for the whereabouts of the artifacts, Tik ignored Kayde’s question and demanded which one of them had Zaraani’s Solitaire.  “The other artifacts, you dimwit” Kayde snapped. Tik scowled and replied that they were safely in the hands of Lady Demise.  Jak looked over at Thom again.  His face typically gave little away, but his jaw was clenched and his eyes had narrowed as he listened to Tik’s gloating and admission of working for the enemy.  Jak implored Thom to listen to him – Tik was obviously out to get him.  As Kayde pulled his byeshk spear off his back, deciding that the talk had run its course, Tik scoffed that he was just as much an amateur as Jak.  Did he really think he’d come alone?  With that, the patrons of the Traveler’s Rest got to their feet, drawing their weapons and advancing on him.  Jak quietly asked Thom if they were the Citadel’s people, to which he replied no – and repeated that he was sorry, though this time, it sounded like he was genuinely sorry for not having believed his friend.  Jak steeled himself.  As he spoke a code phrase to Ivello’s rat, which jumped out of his coat and scurried away, he turned back to Thom with a determined look on his face.  “Just like the Terminus job”, he declared.  Thom nodded, and they sprang into action.  

Pulling the magical lion’s tooth he’d bought in Graywall from his pocket, Jak threw it to the ground behind Tik and spoke the command word, praying that he hadn’t been swindled.  As the tooth disintegrated in a cloud of smoke, the form of a lion emerged from it, snapping at Tik’s leg as Jak shoved the traitor backwards into his new ally.  Caught off-guard but catching his balance just in time to avoid the lion’s jaws, Tik jerked in a different direction as Kayde’s spear lanced just past his head, wiping the smirk off his face at last.  Backpedaling away, the lion caught his cloak as he stumbled back and pulled out his rapier. Feinting up at Kayde, who had jumped onto the table for a better vantage point, he called out to his men to take them dead or alive.  With Jak’s exhortation to get out of this mess and sort things out later ringing in his ears, Thom flung his dagger at Tik, who once again managed to dodge at the last second.  Convinced he had the upper hand, the traitor was nothing if not persistent.

Having received and understood Jak’s message, Aruget bolted out of the Drunken Rabbit and called on Dol Arrah to protect him as Razu ran past him into the doorway of the Traveler’s Rest and flung her own dagger at the nearest Emerald Claw agent.  Following hot on their heels, Ivello pushed past Razu and summoned a freezing wind which blew open the tavern’s shuttered windows, enveloping Tik and sapping his strength.  As Kayde made quick work of one of the goons flanking him, the one rushing Jak buried her mace in the wall beside him while Ivello and Razu traded blows with three more.

Seeing the mess in the doorway, Aruget roared as he raised his shield and rushed the enemy closest to his sister, slamming him and the one behind him down to the ground.  As the closer one fell, Aruget sent the Tiger’s Blade flying, slicing the man’s head clean off.  Further inside, Tik finally got a good swing at Kayde, knocking him down and moving towards the door – which was still blocked by Ivello, Aruget, and Razu, as well as the bodies of several of his men.  Thirsty for information even in the heat of battle, Ivello saw an opportunity.  Reaching into his pouch, he found one of the scrolls of mind-reading looted from his assassin’s cabin back on the Kordenga.  Prying deep into Tik’s thoughts as the scroll disintegrated in his hands, Ivello sought to uncover Demise’s ultimate plan for the Ashen Crown.

Back in the heat of battle, Jak stepped between Thom and his foe, drawing Yeraa’s sword and plunging it into the man’s chest.  Raising the bloodied blade above his head to show Tik, his lion jumped on the man who’d come up behind him, dragging him to the ground.  The man’s blood-curdling screams filled the room as he was mauled, and Jak commanded the lion to go after Tik next.  As it rushed the traitor, Tik angled his rapier just right, using the lion’s momentum against it and driving his blade through its eye.  

As Thom swung around to flank Kayde’s attackers, the performer was putting on a show to be remembered.  Running another enemy through and dealing a nasty blow to a second, his luck finally ran out as yet another Emerald Claw agent advanced on his position.  Finding just the right opening, her sword tore into Kayde’s gut.  Staggering back as blood gushed from his side, he glanced behind him to see two more enemies close in on Thom.  The party had dealt a nasty blow to Tik and his men…but the fight wasn’t over yet, and it seemed like the tide might have turned against them.

Behind the Scenes

  • Question of the week: do you have any personal long-term goals or aspirations?
  • It was great to see Aruget’s sister finally make an appearance. We had hoped for Aruget to be able to pursue more of the lead into his brother’s death while we were in Graywall but…uh…stuff happened. Perhaps it will make for an excellent epilogue.
  • Hey, remember that time when Jak and Aruget were in jail, and Aruget was trying to do some tricky stuff but was out of bennies, but luckily had a card that would replenish his bennies for a price? And how Lestok and I egged him on out-of-character to play that card because I, at least, thought things couldn’t get any worse? Haha, yeah, about that. The name of that card was “Betrayed!” and the description of it reads that a trusted ally will turn against the party…and it finally came home to roost. If Thom survives this (please survive this), that’s going to make for an interesting conversation. This is a big deal for Jak. Him and Thom have always been as close as brothers, so…yeah. At least he’s not working for the Emerald Claw and was also deceived by Tik, right?
  • However, Kayde had his own ace up his sleeve this time: one of our favourite adventure cards, “Spill the Beans.” Playing it on Tik is what got him to reveal his affiliations and plans in front of Thom…and what convinced Thom that he’d been tricked, and should be on our side. I don’t think anything will top the time Ivello played that card on an inanimate object, but I’m pretty glad that this play had the added bonus of Thom believing Jak’s story at last!
  • The lion’s noble sacrifice was how we all learned that Tik has the First Strike edge, which grants him a free attack on anyone who moves into his reach. Kayde’s spear has First Strike on it as an enchantment, which has served him very well in this fight, but now it seems the tables have turned against us! Rest in peace, lion. You did good.
  • A neat mechanic in Savage Worlds that we have not had the opportunity to use until last night is that of players having allied Extras under their command. Thom and Razu each had their own initiative, but myself and Aruget respectively controlled them. The lion, being a magical item, was a special case that moved and acted on Jak’s initiative, but the same principle applied of being responsible for its decisions. It definitely added a new dimension to the encounter.
  • Between having the Bad Luck hindrance (which starts him off every session with one less bennie than everyone else) and not being shy about spending them, Kayde – as usual – ended the session with none to spare. Which was very unfortunate when the final attack of the night dealt him three wounds he couldn’t soak. One more hit will incapacitate him and have him making a Vigor roll for his life. So that is our cliffhanger for the week: will Kayde live to fight another day?

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